March 5, 2010 archive

Long-term unemployed caught in a perfect storm

  It’s interesting to read the news on today’s unemployment numbers with a first line of WORST OVER? It then goes on to explain how the numbers were “better than expected” even though the economy continues to bleed jobs.

  Sure, not everything in the report was bad news…just most of it. The media was quick to report that temporary jobs were increasing, but failed to mention that the U-6 was also increasing, that the number of people on permanent layoff was increasing, and that people not in the labor force but still want a job was increasing.

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Payrolls and Full-Time Employment Shrink Again


(The dark blue line that looks like a broken string is now.)

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics…

Nonfarm payroll employment was little changed (-36,000) in February, and the unemployment rate held at 9.7 percent.

The number of persons working part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) increased from 8.3 to 8.8 million in February, partially offsetting a large decrease in the prior month. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

There was a little more bad news on the BLS summary table of unemployment, which showed an increase of 139,000 in the number of “discouraged workers” who have given up looking for work, between January 2010 and February 2010.

Along with the increase of 500,000 “involuntarily part-time” workers from 8.3 to 8.8 million, there was plenty of bad news, although most of the corporate media described it as “not as bad as expected,” and so on.

Some economic cheerleaders also tried to blame the bad numbers on bad weather, although the BLS had taken the trouble to shoot down this excuse before it got off the ground.

In order for severe weather conditions to reduce the estimate of payroll employment, employees have to be off work for an entire pay period and not be paid for the time missed. About half of all workers in the payroll survey have a 2-week, semi-monthly, or monthly pay period.

So unless you were a day laborer, or snowed in for at least a week, your employment status didn’t change, and snow won’t explain away the bad news.

Even according to Obama’s advisors, his economic “stimulus” has already contributed most of what they expect it to contribute to reducing unemployment.

The stimulus will continue to trickle into the economy for the next couple of years, but as a concentrated force, it’s largely spent. Christina Romer, the chair of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, said last fall, “By mid-2010, fiscal stimulus will likely be contributing little to further growth,” adding that she didn’t expect unemployment to fall significantly until 2011.

And in the same excellent article from the Atlantic which I linked above, Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson describes some bleak consequences of long-term unemployment for black communities…

“One problem that has plagued the black community over the years is resignation,” Wilson said–a self-defeating “set of beliefs about what to expect from life and how to respond,” passed from parent to child. “And I think there was sort of a feeling that norms of resignation would weaken somewhat with the Obama election. But these hard economic times could reinforce some of these norms.”

Wilson, age 74, is a careful scholar, who chooses his words precisely and does not seem given to overstatement. But he sounded forlorn when describing the “very bleak” future he sees for the neighborhoods that he’s spent a lifetime studying. There is “no way,” he told me, “that the extremely high jobless rates we’re seeing won’t have profound consequences for the social organization of inner-city neighborhoods.”

Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 British PM insists Iraq war was ‘right decision’

by Alice Ritchie, AFP

19 mins ago

LONDON (AFP) – British Prime Minister Gordon Brown defended his role in the 2003 Iraq war Friday, telling a public inquiry it was “the right decision” and rejecting claims he denied funds for the military fight.

Brown distanced himself from military moves or diplomatic negotiations in the run-up to the conflict, but said he had always been fully informed and did everything required of him as finance minister under former premier Tony Blair.

“Nobody wants to go to war, nobody wants to see innocent people die, nobody wants to see their forces put at risk of their lives,” he said, but added: “I think it was the right decision and made for the right reasons.”

Liar.  I hope the coming Conservative government, that he and Tony Blair guaranteed with their neo-Liberal policies and War Crimes, locks him in the Tower for the rest of his miserable life.

Pentagon Attacker Was Right Wing Terrorist

Yes, another one.  First a right wing terrorist flies a plane into an IRS office.  Now one attacks the Pentagon. From TPM:

The California man who opened fire last night outside the Pentagon was a property rights extremist who railed against the government’s ability to “confiscate the resources of their citizens to fund schemes that need only be justified by lies and deception,” and wanted to “eliminate the role of the government in education.”

In a recorded manifesto called “Directions To Freedom”, the audio of which he posted online in 2006, John Patrick Bedell, of Hollister, California, praised private property as “the most successful basis for structuring society that humanity has ever known.”

Bedell shot two police officers last night during the rampage, before being mortally wounded himself.

“Communist and socialist governments that abolished or disregarded private property,” said Bedell in the recording, “created poverty, repression and murder on a truly enormous scale.” But, he continued, “Even in the United States, however, there has been a continual erosion of protection of private property justified by the belief that government is an efficient instrument for the positive direction of society.”


Where is the outrage from Dick Cheney and the nether regions of GlennBeckistan?

The Pussy Diaries: A Micro Reflection

I think I’ve come to the very brink, the point at which events overcome my continued acceptance of “anonymous” blogging.  Yes, I know that my own essays and comments are “anonymous,” that my screen name is only part of my full name.  But I know that anonymity, including mine, can and does create problems.  The problems are credibility and reliability.

The Pussy Diaries exemplify the issue.  The reader has no idea who, if anyone, stands behind the essay or comment. Anonymity makes it possible, indeed encourages one to be more inflammatory, more hortatory, more “courageous,” more outspoken by far than one might be if one could be “found out” in real life, if one had to sign one’s name to the rant, if one had to stand behind it.  In fact, the anonymous genre appears to thrives on what is most extreme.

Sure, on one level these essays aren’t about who the writers are, they’re about the ideas they contain.  The screen name might be like a brand, but it’s not a real person and it’s not of the same value.  An argument, however elegant, by a 12 year-old isn’t the same thing as an essay by someone over 70. It’s true that the expressed ideas need to sink or swim on their own merit.  But on another level, anonymity leads to false bravado, extreme arguments, and distortion in the essays. And in the comments anonymity encourages combativeness, insults, vituperation and personal attacks that probably wouldn’t be expressed so vehemently if one had to sign one’s own name to the comment and stand behind it and own it.

As I said in a recent comment, I don’t want to hear

yet another voice saying that s/he is more radical, more revolutionary, more enlightened, more righteous than everybody else.

To be frank about it, I really don’t want to hear about how what I do and what others are doing isn’t enough to make big changes in our world and how in the view of the writer I and others fail to recognize our fecklessness and lack of worth and our impotence.  I don’t need another ocean of negativity.  I don’t need to be called a wuss.  Or worse, a pussy.

Put another way, if you have good ideas about making change, lead us by example.  Show us how you’re changing the world, or the US, or your state, or your town, or you neighborhood, or your household, or yourself.  Just show us.  We’re happy to support real change.

The argument that others just aren’t up to the task sells all of us short.  It kills off any real change by fostering divisiveness.

And then, of course, one anonymous argument about pussies leads to an even more apparently extreme one: “The danger of the Democrats-as-“pussies” meme lies in the justification it appears to provide for docility and inaction (and voting doesn’t count as action…sorry)…” so “we” should demonstrate and/or riot and/or be obstreperous.

What is one to think of all of this?  Can we trust any of it?  Can we rely on it?  Are agents provocateurs now blogging and urging us on to unplanned, disorganized futile actions, and are they juxtaposing chaos with the safer alternative of powerlessness and despair?  Is the purpose of the essay malicious?  Is it helpful?  Who exactly is saying these things anyway and what do they know about it and what do they want to happen?  Are they credible?  Are they malicious?  Who exactly is churning this up?  And why?

I have no solutions. I think it might be time once again for me to take some time away.

“It did get a bit disruptive”- MSM admits there were protests

Is hell freezing over ?

I look at the Sacramento CrapBee this morning, and it’s got a front page color photo of a cop trying to taser a student protester.  WTF ?  Slow news day ?  You aren’t printing whitewash for the Republican Party today ?

I look at the weather, and it’s got a link to a KCRA Channel 3 video on the students protesting at UC Davis yesterday, which is taking about a year to download for me, so I may as well write this up while waiting.  

The embedding has been “disabled by request” so here’s the YouTube link and my transcript below.…


News anchor intro: “More protests could be on tap today. Another big story not only in California but nationally. California’s struggling school systems certainly here in the spotlight.  It did get a bit disruptive. A group of UC Davis students are threatening more demonstrations after an already busy day of actions”

Reporter on the Scene, standing in the pre dawn dark on deserted street:  I just got off the phone with police, they have not had any official word that anything is planned for today, but they are still on standbye  in case something does erupt.   We’re on CA Ave right now, where you can see nobody is here but hundreds of students marched down the street yesterday  (she then describes the protests yesterday instead of having the video show it, so presumably somebody saw it other than the hundreds of student protesters )  The students made their way to the entrance ramp of I- 80 where they were met by a 100 police officers

Video finally shows cops firing pepper balls and using batons as students walk together down the street, as reporter says

“You can see it got a little violent there for awhile”

As a very small, limp blonde student is being dragged down the street by cop, voiceover continues  

“Davis students were amongst thousands across the nation standing up to cuts in public education, while others found the protests did more harm than good ”

Gets anti protest quote from somebody named Deji Aiyedojbon that just is one chopped off sentence “I mean like is this whole movement just to lower our tuition ?”  And an Andrew Koper “I think it’s a waste of money we have graffitti all over the streets.”  (ARC note:  Okay, you can run back to your parents for extra spending money now. )

Reporter: Police do have a plan if students protest again and at 2pm the UC Davis Student body association will meet to discuss how to move forward.


I have had the pleasure of interacting with many students and graduates of UC Davis, which is an agricultural college which has one of, if not the best, veterinary schools and equine clinics on the West Coast.   Davis, CA, the town, also has a thriving Farmer’s Market and is just one of the nicest, most laid back places.

If you’ve lost UC Davis, you have a problem.  Go Student Protesters!  

Open Joy


Wild Wild Left Radio # 55 – Ramped Up Hate in the Failed State

Tonight at 6PM Eastern Time, WWL Radio!!!!!

Gottlieb and Diane G. will be live and in color (or is that off color?) on WWL radio tonight to guide you through Current Events taken from a Wildly Left Prospective.

Hear the Unreported & Under Reported Headlines stories you should be paying attention to, from US Politics, to the farthest reaches of the Earth.

The numbers are in: Hate groups are on the rise, in frightening numbers, and unsurprisingly, the highest hate-rate is among Christian-identifying Americans.

As the economic collapse continues, it seems Americans again are easily lead to the divide and conquer strategy that always serves the Elite Class: Attacking fellow men who are also struggling, and never blaming the real culprits causing our distress.

The whack-jobs keep shooting, the children protesting are arrested enmasse, and the militias form to fight “immigrants” and people of color.

More frightening yet? Most of them are espousing the government doesn’t “serve them” not because the new-shiny-face-on-the-kleptocracy, Pres. Obama, is continuing the disastrous policies of the Bush Era… they are protesting because they see him as “too liberal.”

We are hoping to have a couple guests to speak to the new stressors being left in the Latino and Black communities, and how those effects can be overcome.

Life under Obama seems to be more of the same….

Controversy? We face it. Cutting Edge? We step over it. Revolutions start with information, and The Wild Wild Left Radio brings you the best in information and op/eds from a position that others on the Left fear to tread.

Call In!

Join Gottlieb and Diane every Friday at 6pm EDT on Wild Wild Left Radio, via BlogtalkRadio, for News from the Real Left. No hand-wringing, no PC, just straight talk from reality based politics.

WWL Radio: Free Speech in Practice.

The call in number is 646-929-1264

Listen to The Wild Wild Left on internet talk radio

The live chat link will go live around 5:20.



Blessed are the Conflicted

As part of a recent assignment, I was required to write up short, snappy summaries of candidates who are running this election cycle for political office.  In so doing, I had to make sure to showcase their legislative accomplishments as well as to provide a bit of the personal to ensure that they seemed human and approachable, rather than robotic policy wonks.  In the course of my work, what I couldn’t help but notice was that, regardless of how Progressive a candidate claimed to be, he or she was always very careful to highlight his/her strong support of the military and of those who either currently served or had served in times past.  To back up this claim, close family members and other relatives who had served in combat were visibly invoked, as were the specific bills proposed to assist both veterans and military families.  This deliberate posturing was true to a person, even candidates who were bold enough to promote themselves as peace-loving doves.

As a rule, Quakers are strict believers in pacifism.  Though I was not born into the faith, I have often attempted to reconcile my original thoughts on war with those which I believe now.  I find, as is sometimes the case, that the two of them are often in conflict.  Those who have studied wars in much detail, as I have, know that there is something about them that translates well to stirring narrative and romantic retelling.  In time, the horror of battle subsides, as well as its impact upon the civilians caught in the middle, and we are left with a sort of gloried nostalgia that any sports fan can understand as he or she recalls in conversation some past victory and close defeat.  Perhaps this is what Robert E. Lee meant when he said, “It is well that war is so terrible — lest we should grow too fond of it.”

Two choices lay before me.  I could go out of my way to mention that this particular section of the work went against my religious beliefs, but doing so would draw attention to myself, perhaps unduly and to no good end.  I would then be obligated to specify why I found it so objectionable, and while I have no doubt that my reservations would be noted and taken seriously, I’m not really sure that anyone would truly understand why I found the matter so odious and offensive.  Or, instead, I could choose complete the task in full, not feeling especially good about it, and simply pass the baton to someone else so that it would no longer be my problem anymore.  I regret to report that I chose the latter, since delegating an additional task to someone else already overburdened with work would cause delays and potentially result in resentment from whomever had to pick up where I left off.  

Life, of course, is full of such compromises.  I have no doubt that those of you reading this have run up against similar circumstances in your own lives.  It may be a simple matter of, pardon the expression, knowing how and where to pick our battles.  Few of us are fortunate enough to have the ability to be purists in all circumstances.  In politics, only those fortunate few who run for office in cities, districts, or states overwhelmingly in support of one particular way of thinking ever truly get the ability to present a public face anything in line with their own private convictions.  The game of politics as we know it states, in part, that one is only really indebted to one’s last position statement, and moreover, anything said today can be compellingly rationalized away tomorrow if needed.  It isn’t just politicians who have a genius for rationalization.  Humans have managed to become masters at the process.      

Returning to the earlier point, my own inward leanings against war of any sort take me once again to the Sermon on the Mount and those old, familiar passages that many have committed to heart.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  

Jesus doesn’t equivocate here.  He doesn’t give us any wiggle room.  He doesn’t say, “Forgive your enemies, unless you’re in danger of losing your job.”  He doesn’t say, “Some of you were taught that if someone were to pluck out your eye, you have a right to pluck out theirs in retaliation, but don’t do that, unless, of course, the laws on the books tell you otherwise.”  He doesn’t say, “Love those who hate you, but I certainly concede that there are some people who simply aren’t able to be loved without turning on you.”  Jesus wasn’t exactly someone who practiced the art of Triangulation or who talked out of both sides of his mouth.        

Emerson famously mentioned that to be great was to be misunderstood and I have always been uncomfortable with the phrasing and the sentiment.  It can be easily construed as a justification for egotistical conduct and as a crutch to forgive deplorable behavior.  I’d much rather put it another way alogether.  To be a servant, putting yourself last and service to your fellow person first, is to be misunderstood.  To live a spiritual life is to be misunderstood.  To chart a course between pragmatism and idealism is to be misunderstood as well, but don’t forget that to be fully misunderstood is to stick to your convictions even when others don’t understand them.  After all,  

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the humble, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons and daughters of God.

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

These words are as shocking now as they were then and just as applicable.

Pentagon Patsy

John Patrick Bedell,James Earl Ray, Mark David Chapman and the three name patsy tradition continues!  Note also that the news showing the Pentagon is not as “secure” as it should be is NOT an issue of national security, it makes the “news”.  Why.  Because it associates John with the 911 truth movement and advances the meme that guns are “icky”.  It makes “the news” because it advances global tyranny plain and simple.

In reality any hard core member of 911 truth would know shooting up random innocents would damage the movement.  Any hard core member of 911 truth would know that getting access to the real enemies of mankind is certainly impossible.  Yesterday mind you the Supreme Court pondered erasing the Second Amenedment in favor of what the City Council of Chicago thinks about guns.

For feel good sheeple news, Good Morning America featured Erica.  She can lick her own elbow.

A Fabulous Radio Interview on Food Issues

Cross-posted from Progressive Blue with a similar diary at La Vita Locavore.

Have you ever listened to the Leonard Lopate Show? Yesterday I was thinking that a few minutes was almost as informative for me as my long weekend spent at Slow Food Nation. But that probably had a lot to do with Leonard Lopate. He is like the Bill Moyers of NYC radio and he is great with food issues. I think  his number one guest is Michael Pollan and the number two slot probably belongs to Eric Schlosser.

Leonard’s guest yesterday was David Kirby who two days ago posted a very informative 6 Baby Steps Toward a More Sustainable Animal Diet and his book Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy, and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment has been getting a lot of attention.

If you can find the time, here is the interview page (where you can leave comments) and here is the audio;

In the interview Mr. Kirby sums up industrial farming and the broken American food system with a vivid description of the conditions he has witnessed as an investigative reporter. One of the hazards of his work being manure flu. He points to the contamination caused to our air, land, water, and ourselves by factory farms. Did you know that MRSA kills more Americans today than AIDS?

They discuss the many people who are fighting to restore sustainable farming practices and some of the reasons our elected officials seem so powerless, those powerful business interests behind large-scale factory farms. But he is far from pessimistic, some stalls and some signs of progress while stressing that we need to do more than vote with our forks. We need to stay on top of elected officials with constant letter.

In the last exchange about Blanche Lincoln’s bill that is intended to put manure spills on par with rainfall for corporate farms, Leonard Lopate pointed out “And She’s a Democrat!” David Kirby sarcastic reply “Barely.” If David Kirby writes as well as he speaks, I’ve got to read “Animal Factory.”  

Why Tiger isn’t Muhammad Ali

Original article, by David Zirin and subtitled Comparing Tiger Woods and the scandal he’s embroiled in to the personal and professional savaging that Muhammad Ali suffered is more than insulting, via Socialist Worker (US)

“Boxing is nothing, just satisfying to some bloodthirsty people. I’m no longer a Cassius Clay, a Negro from Kentucky. I belong to the world, the Black world. I’ll always have a home in Pakistan, in Algeria, in Ethiopia. This is more than money.”–Muhammad Ali

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